Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Conciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Dungeonmorph Dice

    Posted By on April 23, 2015

    I received these dice in the mail from Inkwell Ideas (http://inkwellideas.com) yesterday.  They look like they will be a nice way to generate one-off adventures off the cuff for fantasy role playing games.  I can even imagine using them for historical adventures or pulp games.

    There are three sets of five dice — or 15 dice.  That makes 6^15 combinations or 470,184,984,576 if you use all 15 at the same time.  All of the sides are geomorphic, which means no matter what you roll they will fit together.

    This company has some other interesting products.  It is worth a look at their Web page.  I will likely order a few more things from their site.

    First Store for Zombie Shopping Mall Game

    Posted By on April 19, 2015

    The front of the hobby store.

    The front of the hobby store.

    A a semi-club project, several of us are making stores to build a shopping mall as a setting for zombie, post apocalypse, and modern games.  This weekend, I finally finished the first of two that I am building — a hobby store.

    The stores are made from uniformly-sized boxes for scrapbooking paper.  I have decorated mine with a tile floor, a textured wall, a back room, and shelves full of games.  The store even has games on shelves.  If you look closely, you may recognize one or two.

    I made a gaming table with 2mm WWII tanks and infantry.  The gamers are from Victory Force.

    The store room is a bit empty right now. You know the line you get at stores, "Everything we have is on the racks."

    The store room is a bit empty right now. You know the line you get at stores, "Everything we have is on the racks."

    My second store is going to be a wine shop, but I’ll probably spell it “Whine Shoppe.”  I am hoping this inspires the others to get going on their stores.

    Songs of Blades and Heroes

    Posted By on April 19, 2015

    A view of the scenario start

    A view of the scenario start

    On the spur of the moment (almost), Rob, Chris, Greg, and I got together for an impromptu four-player game of Songs and Blades and Heroes.  This was only my third game using these rules.  The activation mechanism is interesting.  As a four player game among buddies, where we can fill in the time between activations with kibitzing, the rules worked fine, but it seems that the rules work best with just two players.

    Greg's zombies advancing

    Greg's zombies advancing

    Chris and I were the good guys.  Greg and Rob played the bad guys.  Both sets of bad buys included a mix of skeletons, zombies, and a handful of special figures.  Greg had some kind of specter who looked like the Grim Reaper.  Rob had a sort of specter thingy that had a “terror” special ability.

    Chris and I gang up on Rob

    Chris and I gang up on Rob

    We didn’t take time to talk about our game plan, but it turned out that Chris and I both moved toward Rob’s force.  Since Greg’s forces were slow-moving, poor quality troops, he advanced slowly and didn’t get into the thick of the action until Chris and I had hammered Rob’s guys pretty hard.

    My human kills a skeleton

    My human kills a skeleton

    Rob's spectre engages Chris and my forces, forcing many to flee in fear

    Rob's spectre engages Chris and my forces, forcing many to flee in fear

    When Rob hit 50%, his remaining forces had to make a morale check.  He did reasonably well, but a bunch of his folks ran off the table.  Then his specter got into the action, forcing a bunch of Chris’ guys and my guys to run away.  I think one of Chris’ guys ran off the table.

    Humans and dwarfs engaged with zombies

    Humans and dwarfs engaged with zombies

    This is where the final, big action took place.  The zombies moved slowly and didn’t activate too quickly, but they fought pretty well.  I lost a couple of guys in the final battle, but then Greg went over the 50% threshold and most of his remaining zombies ran off the table.  At that point we called the game.

    Combat in Songs of Blades and Heroes is conducted with an opposed die roll.  It’s pretty straight forward, except since I have only played a couple of times, sometimes it’s hard to remember what is a plus to the attacker and what is a minus to the defender.  Otherwise, there is nothing too novel about combat.  Where Songs is innovative is in the activation scheme.  The active player can choose to try for one, two, or three actions per figure.  He chooses a figure to activate and decides whether to roll one, two, or three dice, trying to tie or beat his quality number.  So why not always try for three activations?  If you ever fail two activations, your activation ends, and initiative passes to the enemy.  So, while three dice might get you more actions, it also increases your chance of the initiative shifting.  So why not always just roll one die?  That’s safe, but often you want to try to move and conduct combat (two actions), or conduct an aimed bow shot (two actions, where shooting without taking careful aim is just one action), etc.

    As mentioned earlier, I think it is a fun system for a two player game with just a handful of figures on each side.  I only had seven figures, for instance.  Games with just a few figures on each side seem to be in vogue these days.

    We had a good time.  This made my 25th game of the year, so I am well on my way to my 50-game goal.

    Brigade Models 10mm Science Fiction Buildings

    Posted By on April 8, 2015

    Brigade Models 10mm Science Fiction buildings

    Brigade Models 10mm Science Fiction buildings

    As we are beginning to think about Look, Sarge, No Charts near future and science fiction rules, we are already beginning to put together units and terrain in advance of development.  These buildings were recently released by Brigade Models.  My daughter painted them for me.

    I didn’t want them to be in a single gray or brown.  I wanted them to look as if people lived in them and painted them according to their own sense of style.  These sure don’t look dull!

    As I am assembling part of my force, I got my hands on a large collection of Epic Warhammer 40k figures.  Then I picked up a bunch of turrets form Iron Wind Metals at a convention.  Combined together, they don’t immediately jump out at you as GW figures.

    A close-up of my 10mm modified GW vehicles

    A close-up of my 10mm modified GW vehicles

    Completed a Few More Odds and Ends

    Posted By on April 7, 2015

    In my continuing quest to reduce my unpainted lead collection, I have been picking away at odds and ends have been sitting in my “ready to paint” box or penny packets of recent acquisitions.  Recently, Hinterland released a few more figures in their line of female hussars.  Above you can see two of the robots that round out my force.

    I have no idea who makes this Indian figure (below).  It has been on my painting table for a couple of years, so I decided to paint it.  It is closer to 30mm than 25mm.

    Brigade Models (not Brigade Games) makes this Austrian WWI dog cart machine-gun.  I don’t have any other 28mm WWI figures, but I figure I can mix them into a pulp game at some point.

    Chris found the Trojan Bunny on Shapeways.

    I think the globe and other accouterments are from Mega Miniatures.

    These cute little robots are made of dental plaster by Windsword Accessories (http://www.windswordaccessories.com/17-science-fiction).  I will likely pick up a few more.  They were very fun to paint.

    Cards for Fate of Battle

    Posted By on April 7, 2015

    In several of the Look, Sarge, No Charts rules sets, a number of special dice are used to resolve various combat effects, such as morale checks, rolls to close with the enemy, and rolls to stand when charged.  During a recent G.A.M.E.R. (see previous posts) play test, Chris suggested that the card mechanism being developed for G.A.M.E.R. might work to replace the dice in Bear Yourselves Valiantly.  I made up cards for him for those rules.  The experiment went well, and Dave wanted a similar deck of cards for Fate of Battle.  I ginned them up and posted them to the Yahoo Group.  Above is a sample.

    The consensus is that these are a little easier to read than the various dice.  They also remove the table clutter of the dice.  Finally they eliminate the need for players to memorize which dice are used in which situations and the search for the right ones.

    Men Against Tanks

    Posted By on April 6, 2015

    I found this really neat video on YouTube.  It is a German 1943 training film on infantry tactics against tanks.  Enjoy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDbFdngVOJk&feature=youtu.be

    Duncan Prepares for his Napoleonic Skirmish Fight Game

    Posted By on April 6, 2015

    In a previous post (http://bucksurdu.com/blog/?p=3749), I described a game that Duncan ran at a club night using G.A.M.E.R. to represent the skirmish fight between two formed units.  That play test was so successful that Duncan sign dup to run it at HISTORICON.  He has been working on how to represent the formed troops are are important to the game but are not controlled by the players.  These pictures of paper mock-ups of what he is building.  I think they look pretty darned good.

    Imperial Assault

    Posted By on April 4, 2015

    After working on the Armies for Kids project (see related post on Chris’ blog), we pulled out Imperial Assault to give it a test run.  We played the tutorial scenario twice.  I as the Empire player won both tutorials, but the second iteration was very close.  My probe droid turned out to be the most valuable player in both games.

    In general I like the game.  I like the way that range and accuracy are taken care of with all the special dice.  Simple and elegant.  I can live with the fact that figures have no facing and can fire 360 degrees — it’s after all Hollywood.  I don’t like the fact that cover either blocks line of sight or has not effect.  This worked better in the old Star Wars Miniatures game.

    Then we set up the “skirmish game.”  I like the random missions, and the balance seemed about right.  This time, the rebels spanked me 50 points to 15.  Ouch!

    We had a good time, and I think a couple of the folks were up for playing out the various episodes of the campaign.

    Slow Hobby Weekend

    Posted By on March 30, 2015

    This was a busy weekend of activity with the kids, so I didn’t get much hobby work done.  My daughter’s First Robotics Team had a Cinderella moment at the DC Regional Competition on Saturday and is not qualified for the World Competition in St. Louis.  On Sunday I took my son to Frederick to a store where he could try out and purchase professional darts for the dart board we got them for Christmas.  The we took him to a local Italian Restaurant to celebrate his 18th birthday.

    I found this figure in a box of unpainted lead a few weeks back and decided to knock him out.  I haven’t finished painting flocking the base, but the figure is done.

    Except for the bases, I also completed these two figures (actually I finished two of each of them).  These are Laurel and Hardy in the French Foreign Legion as depicted in the movie Beau Hunks.  I don’t have any Foreign Legion figures, so I don’t know what I’ll do with them, but I really enjoy Laurel and Hardy movies, so I couldn’t resist these figures.